Last Updated on May 20, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 369
Peg Woffington, a celebrated actress of the eighteenth century. She admires Harry Vane as an ideal of goodness and has an affair with him. She comes to see the wrong she has done Mrs. Vane, however, and renounces her lover and becomes Mrs. Vane’s friend. Peg is a generous person who helps all who are friendly to her.
Harry Vane, an English gentleman who falls in love with Peg Woffington, sending her notes and flowers anonymously to awaken her interest in him. He truly loves his wife and returns to her after his affair with the actress.
Sir Charles Pomander
Sir Charles Pomander, a gentleman with great curiosity who watches Harry’s pursuit of Peg. He, too, is an admirer of the actress. When he is rebuffed by her, he sets out to stop the affair between her and Harry. He is a crude man.
Mabel Vane, Harry’s wife, a beautiful woman with the simplicity of the country. She discovers her husband’s affair with Peg through Sir Charles, who tries to make love to her. She is such a sweet and generous woman that she forgives her husband for his straying and becomes a close friend of Peg.
Colley Cibber, a great actor and playwright of an earlier day. He claims that Peg Woffington is not as great as Mrs. Bracegirdle, an earlier star. Peg disguises herself as Mrs. Bracegirdle at a party backstage and completely fools Cibber, who then acknowledges her brilliance as an actress.
James Triplet, a struggling playwright, scene painter, and poet who is befriended by Peg because he befriended her when she was a girl. To further his career as an artist, she sits for a portrait. When critics arrive to ridicule his work, she cuts a hole in the canvas, inserts her own head, and thus confounds the critics. Disguised in the same way, she hears Mabel’s plea for the return of her husband and promptly renounces Harry.
Soaper, arrogant critics made to look foolish by Peg’s trick with the portrait.
Mr. Rich, a theater manager who is uninterested in Triplet’s plays.
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